Can You Homeschool?

The big 3 obstacles: I don’t have enough patience, I don’t have enough time, and I don’t know enough to homeschool.

I don't have enough patience to homeschoolI don’t have enough patience to homeschool.

Living with humans is hard. There is no getting around it. Raising little humans requires more patience than I have (or want to extend) some days.

When my kids are home all day, this means we obviously spend more time together. This can be hard. It requires patience, grace, kindness, and love. It means putting those things into practice even when we don’t feel like it.

The 2020-2021 school year will be unique in that there is expected to be a lot of distance learning for “traditionally schooled” kids. This requires extra patience on the part of the parents. Not only will your kids be home 24/7, but your family will have to adapt to each specific school/teacher’s requirements. These vary and typically include video calls and homework.

When you choose to homeschool your child(ren,) you get to pick the workload. You select the curriculum and priorities. You set the schedule and adapt as needed. It is up to you to decide what each child needs to do. The days’ schedule and workload can be adjusted.

When your child has curriculum that fits their learning style and a workload that is appropriate for them (pushing slightly, but not overwhelming) they will have a different experience than those participating in distance learning. Patience will still be required, but because you are setting the expectations, your child will (most likely) have less stress and outbursts that require your increased patience.

Truth: Raising humans is hard and takes more patience than I want to extend. Homeschooling and distance learning both require patience. Homeschooling most likely is easier than distance learning in this respect.

I don't have enough time to homeschoolI don’t have enough time to homeschool.

In this modern age, most parents work. Whether this is in the home or on-location, most parents are busy with income-generating hours of activity. They worry that homeschooling will be like another full-time job. They think of teachers who spend hours preparing and working behind the scenes and know they do not have that kind of time.

I have four kids in school right now. We start school at 9:00 and are typically done by two-ish. When the kids are motivated, they can be done by lunch. When they have a bad day (attitude related which slows them down) it can be later. Overall, I spend about four hours working on school each day. I set the hours and they can be adapted as needed.

When I wouldn’t get home from working in the emergency department until 4:30 am we did not start at 9:00. Instead, I would give the kids a checklist of their independent items and we’d work on “together-stuff” after I woke up for the day. Some families choose to do school on the weekends because of mom/dad’s work schedule. Homeschooling is adaptable.

Another way I have cut down on time is deciding what is important. Two of my kids have a harder time with the work of writing. The words/numbers come easily but putting them on paper is hard and often results in tears or other outward signs of frustration like a math worksheet being torn up. Do I really care if my kid writes the answer for his math problem? Or do I care if he figures out the correct answer. The latter. I am fine scribing for my child as he dictates.

In Language Arts, we use the voice-to-text feature a lot. I want my kids to learn the mental work of writing a story or paper. That is a different skill than the work of putting letters down on paper. So we develop those skills at different times. You might be surprised at how long and detailed a story can be when your child doesn’t have to worry about spelling, sentence structure, a sharp pencil, or how tired his/her hand is.

Another thing that helps greatly with the time required is independent learning. My kids all have things to do without me. This can be anything from math facts (flash cards, games on the iPad, or worksheets) to reading to each other, to learning online. (More on that in a bit.) By the time they are in ninth grade, children should be independent in their learning, but even preschoolers and kindergartners have some independent things they can do.

Oh, and those teachers who put in hours of work outside of classroom time? There are parents who do the same. And there are those of us who do not. I selected a curriculum that is “open and go” meaning that prep work on my end is very minimal.

Myth: I don’t have enough time to homeschool.

Truth: Homeschooling is not an 8:00-3:00 gig. It is very customizable and takes less time than distance learning.

I don't know enough to homeschoolI don’t know enough to homeschool.

I did not go to college to become a one-room schoolteacher. Neither did you. No one has all the education and training to know everything and teach everything.

The great news is that you don’t need to know everything. We live in the age of technology. There are so many places you can turn!

What curriculum you select greatly determines how much you need to know and do. While I am fine teaching my kids to count, I cannot teach them calculus. I selected a math curriculum that has video lessons, a textbook that gives me all the answers, and workbooks that help my kids learn. If my child doesn’t understand something either I can tell them how to do it (by reading the process in the textbook) or we can watch the video again together which usually solves the problem. Even if I still don’t know what the child is supposed to do, they understood it by rewatching the lesson. If that doesn’t answer their question we turn to Kahn Academy which is free and loaded with tons of videos and lessons. There is always somewhere to find help.

There are curriculum choices for each subject your child needs to study. You can select a curriculum that requires you to teach as much or as little as you want, all the while customizing your child’s education to meet their needs. Some of our curriculum choices require more of my time teaching and others are nearly independent. Do what works for you and your family.

Outschool is a great option for core classes and electives. This coming year I will probably enroll my eighth grader in an essay-writing class so that he can have constructive feedback from someone other than his mom. You can find just about anything on Outschool, but each class does have a fee.

Myth: I don’t know enough to homeschool.

Truth: There are many resources starting with the curriculum you select. You are not expected to know it all.

Truths of HomeschoolingIs homeschooling the right choice for your family?

Only you know the right answer to this question. There are many factors to consider including those listed above. You also need to consider the mental well-being of your child in the anticipated classroom.

We have been trying to get one of our sons into the local charter school for over a year. He was doing ok in our homeschool, but we knew the environment at this particular school would suit him better. He was moving up on the waiting list when our state’s guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year were unveiled. Almost all of the reasons that he would thrive at the charter school have been removed and some of the coronavirus precautions (masks, no playground) would cause even more stress on him. We pulled him from the waiting list.

For our family, homeschooling is the best plan for this coming school year. Check out the curricula that works best for us in the “resources” section of my post “How do I school at home?”

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